Ventura County began taking steps to slowly ease stay-at-home restrictions for recreation areas and some businesses as officials say residents have been heeding those orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The county's "Stay Well at Home Order" was modified to allow some businesses to resume operations. Still, officials say continuing to practice physical distancing is key to keeping those places open.
Starting Sunday, businesses like car dealerships and golf courses can reopen, but some restrictions will remain in place. The modified order allows for non-public serving businesses to operate with no more than 10 employees and allows for gatherings of up to five people.
Hikers headed outdoors to Santa Rosa Valley Park over the weekend to take advantage, though parking lots to the parks remain closed. Park bathrooms, playgrounds and tennis courts are also still off limits but some beaches were opened.
Dawn Buchanan was among those who flocked to the park. She says it's been hard to avoid parks and trails but understands why the restrictions are necessary.
And, she says, it's not hard to imagine a scenario where people "swarm" public places once the orders are fully lifted.
County officials say they were able to lift the closures because people have been compliant but they warn that could change.
"If we start to open things and may the numbers start to go up, and that creates concern... we might have to then tighten things up again," said Ventura County Executive Officer Mike Powers, who told Eyewitness News that the process will be gradual and in phases.
As long as everyone interacts safely, many residents said they appreciate the small steps in the right direction by slowly bringing businesses back online.
Ventura County, which has been hit less hard compared to neighboring counties, has confirmed 416 COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths.
Ventura County takes steps toward easing stay-at-home restrictions but officials urge caution
County officials say they were able to lift some closures because residents have been compliant but they warn that could change.
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